At least once a week—more, if your algorithm is anything like ours—you’ll scroll by an event for a retreat or another, promising a few days of meditation, restorative practice, and beautiful scenery in one gorgeous natural location or another.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll have clicked ‘interested’ and saved Instagram posts for a million and one of these events. Actually going, however, is another story…
If you’ve been hesitant, unsure of what to expect, if the money’s worth it, or what you could potentially get out of a retreat, this is for you: 6 reasons why you should follow through and go on that retreat, as told by the leaders and participants of A Divine Path, a yoga and sound healing retreat led by ashtanga yoga instructor Amy El-Sherbiny and sound healer Loulli Megahed in Sinai in February.
1. There’s incredible power in nature.
It’s a simple truth, but one that bears repeating. Taking the time to be in nature, with sand between our toes, an interrupted sun on our cheeks, walking through ancient mountains, is deeply powerful.
“It’s like the magic of nature is another instructor,” says Naila Marei, who participated in the retreat, commenting that the environment is more than just the location of the retreat.
“When we’re in the right environment, we can really connect with our true selves,” explains Amy. When we ground ourselves, connect with nature through walking and hiking and doing breathing practices and sound healing, we allow nature to heal us. It’s why nature is a big component.”
2. You finally immerse yourself in the practice you’ve been bookmarking.
Strictly speaking, retreats might be a vacation, yes (especially according to your job’s HR). But make no mistake: they’re often hard work. You’re learning, healing, and growing a lot in a short amount of time. And having your days organized around one central practice you can delve into is a massive opportunity, whether it’s an art practice, a healing module, or yoga.
“It opened my eyes to what yoga can really be,” says Light-Twerker-in-Chief, Founder, and Creator of Healers & Guides, Sherin Wafaai. “We learned about yoga philosophy, which was super important, because I hadn’t heard it like that. I had just been following YouTube videos for so long, so to have someone who was such an expert at what they do help assist and hold me through the process, it was such a gift.”
Naila echoes this same sentiment, that “more than attending a class, more than following a video, being on a retreat lets you enter that dimension of yoga and understand it for what it is, not its superficial layer that’s usually taught in a short class in the city. So for people who haven't done yoga, it’s a very nice introduction.”
3. It’s so much more than the retreat itself.
One of the best ways to phrase it that I’ve heard is Naila’s, who called it an ‘activation.’ “Ever since I’ve been back, I’ve been doing yoga three times a week, reading about it, watching videos, and I’ve been very interested, which has never been the case in the past ten years that I’ve been trying.”
It’s intentional on Amy’s part, who in addition to introducing beginners to the practice gradually, works with every participant on developing something of their own. “By the end of the week, I make sure you take a practice home that you can do on your own, an individual practice that you can do for some time, until we meet again.”
4. It’s an investment in yourself.
No shame, it’s a common concern that can stop anyone from taking the plunge: why should I dedicate my hard-earned money to this, instead of something else? For Sherin, it’s about setting priorities to invest in.
“I came back thinking about how this was one of the best investments I’ve made for myself. I think it’s such a gift you can give yourself. It really is an investment, not a cost,” she says, bringing up a frankly genius point that we should all immediately add to our financial plans: a self-care budget.
Amy has been promoting this mindset herself: “I’ve personally done that, where I’ve invested in myself. When things get a little expensive, I see it in terms of how I’m investing in my wellbeing, I’m investing in my health, which serves me later, it comes back tenfold later.”
5. The depth of retreats lets different practices come together.
Central to the Divine Path retreat is Amy and Loulli’s seamless blend of practices: yoga and sound healing. “I believe in sound healing a lot, it’s helped me so much,” explains Amy. “It’s helped release a lot of patterns, a lot of negativity. I’ve found sound healing very complementary to the yoga practice, and me and Loulli work very well together.”
After intense ashtanga yoga sessions in the mornings, afternoons needed to be about restoration, where Loulli’s sound healing could come in to open, heal, and allow emotions to surface. “She was able to make us go to deeper parts of ourselves,” says Sherin. “And you begin to purge, you begin to release things that were blocked in your body, that come out through the vibrations of the sound.”
“It was a multidimensional journey, it wasn’t just about physical activities, or spiritual activities, but somehow merged both together very seamlessly and very harmoniously,” says Naila.
6. You’re not going through it alone.
“The relationships developed between people there was the biggest surprise, I had no idea that would be part of the retreat,” says Sherin.
A less obvious aspect of this kind of trip: that when you go on a retreat with people, you’re going with people. That is, you’re not an island surrounded by other islands, with every person going through it alone. You’re a collective, going through something together.
“The most incredible thing was the relationships we’d make, learning vicariously through every other person’s journey,” recalls Sherin. “It’s as if you were going through several journeys at the same time, which can be very intense, but you also experience way more than you ever thought possible.”
On a simpler level, it’s also a very powerful way to make friends, something that feels incredibly difficult to do, but shouldn’t be. In surrounding yourself with like-minded people, in choosing to immerse yourself in a new experience, and in investing in yourself, you’re putting out an energy of self-actualization that’s incredibly powerful.
It can feel like a big decision, to take that plunge, book your spot, and dedicate the time and energy to exploring a practice like this. But it’s a powerful decision to make, and -- no matter what the particular practice you choose might be -- it is the choice to prioritize your wellbeing, explore yourself, and deepen your relationship with you.
Check out our collection of upcoming retreats here.